Play Ball With Me!

How is this book an assistive technology tool for a student with a disability?

This book could be an assistive technology tool for a variety of students with disabilities.

For a student with a vision disability… There is audio available that will actually read the book aloud to you.
For a student with a hearing disability… The book’s text is included on the bottom of each page.
For a student who a learning disability in reading… Percie, Emo, and Can-do help you guide your way through the story, There is a glossary for tough words, The text is highlighted as it is spoken aloud
For a student with a motor disability… The student does not have to turn the pages, just click the mouse.
For a student with ADHD… There are many interactive items that can be clicked on in the text to keep them better focussed
For a student with Autism…Percie and Emo describe how each of the characters are feeling based on the pictures and actions in the text (this is helpful because many children with autism struggle with social interactions/cues)
For a student who is an ELL… Under the “Text Help” section there is an English to Spanish translator.

How could this book be used to support ALL learners?

As great as this book is for students with disabilities, it really is a wonderful tool for everyone! One thing that I have learned from working with kids is that they love technology. Kids are growing up with computers, cell phones, iPads… This is what they know. If you can find a way to integrate technology into your lesson, you will have your students hooked from the get-go.

The glossary tool embeded within the text is really great for all learners. For example, one of the words in the text is kayak. “The kayak scraped onto the beach.” A student might be a great reader, but never have seen or ridden in a kayak before. The student has the ability to click on the word, “kayak,” and be taken to a page with a picture, definition, and recording of the word’s pronunciation.

Another part of the text that is great for all learners are Percie, Emo, and Can-Do.
First of all, how cute are these guys…

These three characters keep students focussed as they are reading. Percie and Emo help to gauge the characters’ emotions and Can-Do asks readers questions to ensure comprehension.

I hope to use Book Builder more in my future classroom with ALL of my students!



I am reading a blog called, Stimeyland.

Stimey has two children, Jack and Quinn. Jack has autism. Jack loves legos, hockey, and moonbounces, but perhaps his favorite thing is his iPad. He uses it daily for educational games, reading, and to play Plants vs Zombies. Plants vs. Zombies is an interactive game which allows Jack to connect with other children.

Stimey’s husband, Alex, is an attorney. Both Stimey and Alex are very involved in their children’s lives; Their education, socialization, daily care, affection, etc.

Another family member (not by blood) that I failed to mention is Algernon the Mouse.

Algernon is a family pet that was purchased adopted at a toy store in Grand Junction, Colorado.

He’s pretty awesome.

Cognitive Rescaling

In simplest terms, cognitive rescaling is varying the cognitive difficulty of information.

Cognitive rescaling would be considered a modification because although all students are receiving the same information, the level of  complexity is being altered.

In terms of UDL, cognitive rescaling makes sense. You are making the curriculum accessible to all students. You are “minmizing barriers” and “maximizing learning.”

Here is a great example of cognitive that we discussed in class…

The website they feature divides the information for a lesson on water into beginner, intermediate, and advanced. Let’s discuss all the people who benefit from this…

1. A student who is on a lower reading level than his/her peers

2. A student who is sick and has missed a week of school

3. A student whose native language is not English

4. A student who is gifted in Science and is ahead of their classmates

5. A student who has never seen the beach so the background knowledge and experience is not there

6. A student with ADD who had trouble focusing in class on the day of the lesson

7. A student who didn’t get around to their homework till the weekend and has now forgotten what was discussed in class

8. A child with Autism, CP, Down Syndrome, Spina Bifida, Fetal Alchohal Syndrome, a Brain Injury, or any other developmental disability whose learning is delayed.

9. A parent who wants to help their student with his/her homework yet has fogotten the information themself

10. A student who needs to review information they learned weeks ago for an upcomming cumulative exam

So there are 10 examples of who would benefit from this type of cognitive rescaling. Can you think of any other(s)?

UDL and Differentiation

UDL and Differentiation

I.       Similarities

4 Parts of UDL

– Goals
– Materials
– Methods (This is where DI fits in)
– Assessment

II.     Methods/Strategies

– Modify requirements
– Choice
– Collaboration
– Altering Content
– Multicultural
– Alternative Programs
– Fewer/Different Objectives

III.    Differences

A.   UDL

– From beginning, options embedded during design phase
– For everybody

B.   Differentiation

 – “Add-On” to UDL
– Margins (Ex. GT and Special Ed)

Don Johnston

Resources to Learn More


To Open on Microsoft Word: UDL and Differentiation

In 10 words or less…

What are differentiated instruction (DI) and universal design for learning (UDL)?

UDL and Technology

Make a connection between UDL and the current technologies that are used to support diverse learners in a digital age.  Please cite information from Chapter 1, PCT and Chapter 1, TES.)

Simply put, technology is what makes UDL possible… Period

Sure there are some devices and ideas that require no technology at all or are considered to be “low-tech”, but they can only do so much. UDL is all about reaching every student: The little boy who has been told that he cannot do something because of his disability. The girl who has given up on her education because the curriculum was not made accessible to her. All of the children who have been left behind.

Technology is what is making all of these ideas that at one time seemed so advanced and futuristic, tangible. If 20 years ago you had asked your school’s principal for a pen that could read the words on a page a loud for a student with Dyslexia, he/she probably would probably have had you drug tested and seriously evaluated for any psychiatric disorders. With where we are now in the world of technology, it feels like we can do anything. If the idea is there, we will figure out a way to engineer it.

To say that technology is essential for UDL is debatable. First, I think it is important to note that there are many ways that you can implement UDL ideas without technology. Some schools do not have the money and you will need to be creative. (Check out for some ideas on how to make your instruction fit the UDL principles with little-no cost to you.) With that being said, I think that if you have (1) access to the technology and you find it (2) worthwhile and (3) appropriate to integrate it into your instruction, then you should most certainly do it.

One last point I would like to make is that as great as technology is, we need to make sure we are teaching our students how to modify their learning environments to make them work for their own specific needs. If the technology being used inside the classroom cannot be duplicated outside of classroom, then what is a student supposed to do once he/she enters the “real world?” …And isn’t that the whole goal of the education system; To prepare students to function effectively in society? Thoughts?

“You put a fish on land and it struggles with it’s abilities, you put a fish in water and its gifts and abilities come alive. The fish performs better in the water cause that’s where it was created to perform. Water is it’s element.

For your gifts and abilities to work at their best or full potential, you have to find the element you were created to perform in!

Find your element and you’ll notice you’ll be hard to compete with!” -Robert Atchison, Slam Poet

Blog 1

1. Why should teachers consider the impact of technology when planning for 21st century learners?

To begin, let’s define diversity…

Thank you,

OK, so here is the deal: You have a classroom full of 30 students, all with different “dimensions of race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation…. etc. etc.” Your job as the teacher is to reach and teach each one of those 30 students. Oh, and did I forget to mention on top of those 10+ dimensions that you also have students with varying abilities, both mentally and physically. So as the teacher, how are you going to make sure that all of your students needs are
getting met?

Hint: The answer is in the question.

Yes, technology! Technology is what is going to assist you in enhancing and supporting your carefully planned instruction. Technology allows you to reach students who were once unable to sit in a general education classroom. It allows your students to better understand and comprehend a lesson. Technology is so versatile that it can be used in all aspects of the classroom, from demonstrating a concept on a PowerPoint to creating better classroom acoustics for a student who is hard of hearing.

Chapter 1 highlighted how technology can be used to support four content area

Content Area Problem Technology Solution
Writing Dysgraphia Word Processing Software
Organizing/Relating Ideas Concept Mapping Software
Slow Typer/Spelling Problems Word Prediction Software
Slow Typer/Spelling Problems Custom Dictionary
Poor Reading Skills Text to Speech Software
Trouble Identifying Misspelled Words Talking Spell Checker
Reading Understand Grade Level Material, Trouble with Decoding Recorded Books
Cannot Read and Understand Material Written at Grade Level High Interest – Low Level Books
Blind/Reading Difficulties Scan/Read Systems
Communication Trouble Hearing Personal or Sound-Field Amplification Device
Non-Verbal Augmentative Communication (Ex. Picture Communication Symbols)
Computer Use Trouble with Input Sticky Keys, Mouse Keys, Keyboard Labels, Pointing Devices, Keyguards,
On Screen Keyboard, Touch Screen, Expanded Keyboard, Mini Keyboard,
Customizable Keyboard, Single Switch with Scanning
Trouble with Output Screen Magnification, Screen Readers

Not only is technology beneficial to students with special needs but it allows all students an enhanced learning experience. We now have the ability to do things that not long ago were very futuristic ideas. We can create a global learning atmosphere by Skyping with students in other countries. We can create virtual manipulatives to present a word problem in a math class.  We can access all kinds of information and resources instantly using the internet.

So why is technology so important when planning for 21st century learners? It is exactly that. 21stcentury.  Now of days kids are growing up with all of this new technology. They play video games, read e-books, and watch DVDs. We need to realize that as teachers even though we were not brought up with all of these different gadgets and gizmos that our students were. This is what they know and this is how they learn.

2.Define Assistive Technology and UDL.


Assistive Technology Devices are defined by IDEA 2004 as “any item, piece of equipment, or product system, whether acquired commercially off the shelf, modified, or customized, that is used to increase, maintain, or improve functional capabilities of a child with a disability.” (IDEA 2004, Sec. 1401 (1) (A)).

This accounts for a wide range of items. Therefore, Assistive Technology Devices are often categorized as either low-tech, mid-tech, or high-tech. Below are examples of each.

Low-Tech Planners, Pencil Grips, High Lighters, Specialty Paper (Ex. Wide Ruled), Paper Stabilizers
Mid-Tech Timer, Tape Recorder, Digital Recorder, Spell Checkers, Handheld Electronic Dictionary, Talking Calculator, Portable Keyboard
High-Tech Voice Recognition, Word Prediction Software, Sophisticated Augmentative Communication Systems, Text-To-Speech, One Handed Keyboard

It is important to note that the only exception that IDEA 2004 makes in regards to assistive technology are medical devices that are surgically implanted, a cochlear implant, for example.

IDEA 2004 also mentions Assistive Technology Services. You see, Assistive Technology has two parts, devices and services. It is important to note that simply providing the devices is not enough. Assistive Technology Services refers to “any service that directly assists a child with a disability in the selection, acquisition, or use of an assistive technology device.” (IDEA 2004, Sec. 1401 (2)).  Some examples of Assistive Technology Services…

– A technician for a Wheel Chair Company repairs a broken axle on a boy’s wheelchair

– A school’s speech pathologist gives a student who is having trouble hearing in class a Personal
Amplification System to use.

– A special educator teaches a child how to use a computer using a single switch with scanning.


While many of us are familiar with the concept of Universal Design in architecture and software development, it is often overlooked in everyday life. Things like wide doorways, elevators, and curb cuts are the norm- we don’t even think twice when we see or use them. Although these items were created to allow individuals with special needs access to all of the things that the non-disabled population can hear, see, or do, they sure make everyone’s life much easier. I think for example recently when I moved out of my apartment- I can’t image having moved a 250 pound couch through a narrow doorway, down four flights of stairs, and off the curb into a moving truck.

Now what most people don’t know is that Universal Design also applies to learning.
(taken from:

So using the cartoon above as a fictional example, the monkey would be tested by climbing the tree, the fish by swimming laps in the bowl, the elephant by grazing in a field, etc.

UDL seeks to make the curriculum available and achievable for all students. It gives all students, disabled or non, an equal opportunity to learn. Just like universal design for architecture, it is important to note that universal design for learning benefits ALL students. To use a non-fictional example this time for all of my realists out there, take using an Audio Book for example. This would not only benefit students who are blind but would also help to keep all of your students engaged in the text. Another example could be the use of PowerPoint to present instructions. PowerPoint has the option of using large font sizes which would allow students who have vision impairments the ability to see the board much easier than a traditional chalkboard alone. You would also be able to reach out to students who are deaf through the use of PowerPoint rather than giving verbal instructions. And finally, back to the idea of UDL benefiting all students: A powerpoint presentation would also give students who are sitting in the back row a much easier time reading the instructions as well.


My name is Dani.

I transferred to Towson University last year from UNLV after receiving a degree in Spanish. After working with my friend’s son who has autism, I soon realized that my true calling was in Special Education.  I made the decision to return not only back to school but back to Maryland to be closer to my family. Alas, here we are.

I really do not know what this class is about. I have been so busy that I haven’t even had a chance to look over the text. I guess I have no choice to look at it now… 🙂

Something interesting. Well, I just had probably the best summer of my life! I spent a week in Nashville, TN at the Country Music Festival in June and I got to see my favorite baseball team, the San Francisco Giants, this past July!